When a fencing manufacturer goes designer (3/3): 3D printing a fencing mask

Fencers! The mask worn by world class sabre fencer James Honeybone on the runway at the FIE 105th anniversary gala has caught the attention of lots of you! In the last part of our series about how we came up with the ideas for the fencing fashion of the future seen on stage at the Grand Palais in Paris, our director Ben Paul explains (and shows!) how we made this one-of-a-kind mask and what was the ispiration behind it.  Read the full story after the jump!


3D printing a fencing mask

by Ben Paul


The last task for the fashion show was the mask to be used on the Overwatch uniform. We wanted to do something a little different and really push the boundaries of mask-making further.

After lots of research on masks, I had a few ideas of what we could try to replicate and adapt but I also wanted to use this project to test some new machines and technologies we have invested in. Technologies of the future, no less – think 3D-printing.

Yes indeed, we have a new 3D printing machine! This allows us to rapid prototype products. We can then take these 3D files and use a CNC mill to make metal versions of a product to test…. We can then inverse the 3D drawing to make a mould tool, take this to our injection moulding machine and mass produce the new component part. This process used to take months but now can be done in days.

So, we decided to 3D print the mask for the FIE gala fashion show and use the mill to make some of the metal fittings for the mask. I believe in 10 years time all or most fencing mask will be 3D printed from metal in a honeycomb structure so it is lighter and more breathable and be fully adjustable to a customers head. This project presented a is a nice way to start testing these theories and offer an outlook towards the future of fencing, which the FIE gala was all about.

As time was limited we decided to take a mask that had lots of images and work around it done by fans, and this mask (as many of you have recognised!) was the iconic mask from the film Iron Man.

By printing the masks in a transparent plastic we could then add LED lighting, so it could become part of the scoring systems used in fencing.

Lastly, we wanted the mask to open and close automatically, imagine how cool this would be if you could just press a button inside the mask to open it and discuss with the referee your issue with their last bad decision!

We used some carbon fiber to strengthen the mask and we could have used some neck protection that we use in HEMA (Historical European Martial arts), but we decided this took away from the aesthetics and this was after all a fashion project trying to show how the future of fencing might look.

Here’s the mask in action at the fashion show:


From this work I really think in the future masks can be produced from 3D printing in Titanium and designs could be made that were lighter, stronger and more practical. The technology will become cheaper over time and I cannot wait to see the first mask produced using this technique.

Walking the fashion show at the FIE anniversary gala (and the idea behind it)

Working at Leon Paul definitely comes with unexpected tasks and experiences. If you don’t believe us, just ask our Instagram girl Johanna, whom we sent to Paris this past weekend on a quite extraordinary mission: at the gala held at the Grand Palais in Paris to celebrate the 105th anniversary of the International Fencing Federation, along with World cup fencer (and accidentally also her colleague) James Honeybone; she walked down the runway in what we think is a fencing uniform that could ensure the future of our sport by making it attractive for new audiences. Read all about that unique experience after the jump.

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When a fencing manufacturer goes designer (2/3): Fencing uniforms based on teams for the e-sports league

It’s fencing fashion show time again, fencers! Two days ago, our director Ben Paul explained the leading principles behind the design for the FIE Fashion show held in Paris on December 9th, and today he will tell you more about the design and the actual products being made…make sure to check our social networks this weekend for more insight, some behind the scene glimpses (and then pictures of the actual uniforms, of course!)
Continue reading “When a fencing manufacturer goes designer (2/3): Fencing uniforms based on teams for the e-sports league”

When a fencing manufacturer goes designer (1/3): the idea behind Leon Paul’s uniforms for the FIE fencing fashion show

With December now upon us, the festive season is definitely here. But, at least for the international fencing crowd, December 2018 is about more than just Christmas celebrations.  During their annual Congress on the second weekend of December, this year the F.I.E. will celebrate their 105 year anniversary in Paris and as part of the festivities, they are hosting a massive gala event at the Grand Palais, right next to the world-famous Champs-Elysées. What would a gala event in Paris, the city of Haute Couture and designers be, without a fashion show? In this particular case involving fencing fashion, of course!  So that’s what the fencing world is going to see in Paris:  All the major manufactures of fencing equipment produce two uniforms and get an opportunity to show it on stage at the event. Talk about a great chance to showcase new and exciting ideas to the whole fencing community! 5 years ago, for the 100th anniversary of the F.I.E., we did a project that explored lighting fencing gear and a lighting system showing the fencers face (a project by the way which is about to come in for a new wireless fencing system we have worked on… more on that next year, stay tuned!), but this year, our company director Ben Paul had something different in mind. Read all about his inspiration after the jump (and look forward to more, as this is only the first instalment of a three-part series!)

Continue reading “When a fencing manufacturer goes designer (1/3): the idea behind Leon Paul’s uniforms for the FIE fencing fashion show”